IAU conducts global survey of HE internationalisation

Surveys on internationalisation of higher education are conducted at national and regional levels by different national and international organisations. Their results provide useful insights on internationalisation trends in different parts of the world. However, none of them provides a holistic approach at global level.

The International Association of Universities (IAU), the leading global association of higher education institutions and organisations from around the world, aims at filling this gap with its Global Surveys on Internationalisation of Higher Education.

Giorgio Marinoni, manager for higher education and internationalisation policy and projects at the IAU, said: “Internationalisation of higher education is now, more than ever, subject to extensive debate in the higher education community.”

He said internationalisation, by its very nature, is a complex, dynamic process that does not exist in a vacuum; it is influenced by many different internal and external actors and factors.

“Recently, the debate has concentrated on the possible impact of political developments on internationalisation at global level, with a particular emphasis on two countries (the United States and United Kingdom) and on student mobility.

“However, recently, many voices have emerged from the Global South. They mainly focus on the possible negative consequences of internationalisation, especially in its narrow form: the recruitment of international students. In an increasing number of countries, the debate on internationalisation is linked to the debate on the decolonisation of higher education,” he said.

An emerging global trend, he said, is the link between internationalisation and sustainable development, and especially the role that internationalisation can play to reach the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by endorsing the Agenda 2030 roadmap in all internationalisation activities.

“People working in the field are trying to develop new synergies between the internationalisation and sustainable development strategies,” he said.

Global data

Since 2003, the IAU Global Surveys have provided analysis of global and regional level data on trends and developments in the field of international higher education and related policy-making.

The latest edition of the IAU Global Survey, the fourth, was conducted in 2013, collecting data on the previous academic year and its report was published in 2014. More than 1,300 higher education institutions replied to the online questionnaire, from all world regions, yet predominantly from Europe (almost half of respondents).

The fifth edition was officially launched on 1 March 2018. Higher education institutions from all over the world have time until 30 June 2018 to reply to the online questionnaire, available in three languages at the following links: The aim for the fifth edition is to achieve 3,000 responses and to have a better distribution among the different regions of the world.

To reach this objective, IAU is working in partnership with a number of organisations, which provide invaluable support to the IAU Global Survey both financially and by actively contributing to its development.

The five main partners of the fifth edition of the IAU Global Survey are the Agence universitaire de la Francophonie; Académie de Recherche et d'Enseignement Supérieur; the German Academic Exchange Service; NAFSA: Association of International Educators; and UNESCO.

University World News is lending its support by promoting the survey to its readers.

The IAU Global Survey is conducted through an online questionnaire structured in seven main sections:
  • • A. Institutional information and profile
  • • B. Internationalisation as an institutional priority
  • • C. Internationalisation policy and activities
  • • D. Internationalisation of research
  • • E. Human resources and staff development
  • • F. Student mobility
  • • G. Internationalisation of the curriculum or Internationalisation at home.
Each section investigates several topics. Section B enquires about the importance of internationalisation for institutional leadership, the source of funding, the benefits, risks, drivers and obstacles.

Section C covers institutional internationalisation policies, strategies and activities (including transnational education, online and distance learning, joint and dual/double and multiple degrees).

Section D investigates how research is internationalised, while section E looks at the role and impact of internationalisation in recruiting human resources and in staff development. Section F concerns student mobility, both incoming and outgoing, and section G deals with ‘internationalisation at home’ both from a curricular and an extra-curricular perspective.

The questionnaire for the fifth edition was developed by improving the questionnaire of the fourth edition with the support of an advisory committee of 21 international experts on internationalisation.

Some questions present in the fourth edition were kept to analyse the evolution of trends over the years, while some others were modified or added to take into account both new developments in the field of internationalisation of higher education and changes that happened in society at large.

Marinoni said: “Internationalisation is by its very nature a dynamic process and it is not surprising that the debate focuses on its future and it is even less surprising that there are opposing views on this matter.

“However, one aspect for which there is widespread agreement among scholars and other stakeholders is that, despite the huge interest in internationalisation, the availability of data on internationalisation trends at the global level is still limited to data on student mobility flows.

“Surveys on internationalisation of higher education are conducted at national and regional levels by different national and international organisations. Their results provide useful insights on internationalisation trends in different parts of the world. However, none of them provides a holistic approach at global level. The IAU is trying to plug this gap.”

Results analysed

The results of the survey will be analysed during the (Northern Hemisphere) autumn of 2018 with the aim of publishing the report at the beginning of 2019.

The full report will be available for purchase from DUZ Academic Publishers, and results will be made available free of charge in electronic copy to IAU members.

All institutions that respond to the questionnaire will be invited to participate free of charge in a webinar where the main results of the survey will be presented and discussed.

Other than through webinars, IAU plans to disseminate the results of the survey by organising regional seminars to be held at different locations around the world.

IAU is confident that the results of the survey will provide new knowledge on the current trends in internationalisation of higher education around the world.